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DIY Painted Canvas Bag & FREE Cut File!

Do you ever get inspiration for new projects in the middle of the night?  You know, you’re drifting off to sleep then–BAM!  An idea pops in your head that causes your eyes to fly open and the creative wheels to start a-spinnin’?  Yeah, that’s what happened to me a few days (or I guess nights) ago.

I was almost all the way to dreamland when, all of a sudden, I remembered that I had a blank canvas bag shoved on the top shelf of my closet and it just needed–NEEDED–to be jazzed up…..maybe this is why I sometimes suffer from insomnia.  I just can’t turn my brain off!  Yeesh…

I spent who knows how long tossing and turning, trying to finalize just what this “jazzing up” was going to be, and luckily I hadn’t forgotten everything by the time morning arrived (I really should keep a notepad next to my bed….): I was going to make my very own DIY painted canvas bag with the help of my Silhouette Cameo and some fabric paint!

DIY Painted Canvas Bag & FREE Cut File! | Where The Smiles Have Been

[This post contains affiliate links.]


DIY Painted Canvas Bag & FREE Cut File!


  • Canvas bag
  • Fabric paint
  • Paint dauber
  • Silhouette Cameo
  • Vinyl
  • Hook & scraper tools
  • Transfer paper
  • Painter’s tape
  • Ruler
  • Scissors


The Design 

I truly believe in the power of positive thinking, and I’ve always been a fan of this saying:

Today is a good day to have a good day.

I mean, have truer words ever been spoken?  Probably, but this little phrase sums up quite nicely the conscious effort that I’m making every day to see the good in life…ya know, that whole rose-colored glasses thing?  You can read more about my new positive life perspective here.

As cliché as it sounds, every day is a gift and we should try to make the most out of ’em….we’ve only got so many after all.  There doesn’t need to be anything “special” about a day for it to be a good one…..good days aren’t just pay days, holidays, weekends, parties, big game rivalries, homecomings, trips to the hair salon, receiving a real letter in the mail, etc.  Now, those are all very nice, don’t get me wrong (especially the hair salon one!), but so are the random Tuesdays with nothing eventful occurring….just waking up and being with family is enough, for me at least.  Life is what you make it, and I’m all about making it a good one.

So in Silhouette Studio, I threw together this little design of my chosen saying….I didn’t want anything too frilly or intricate.  I just wanted nice clean lines for a simple graphic print.  I also had the box framing the saying set as a cut line as well, so I’d be using the white pieces as a stencil.


FREE Cut File!

Want to make your very own “Today Is a Good Day” project?  No problem!  Just click here or on the image below to download the Silhouette Studio cut file from Google Drive.  Enjoy!  And I’d love to see what you create from this file, so please share!

DIY Painted Canvas Bag & FREE Cut File! | Where The Smiles Have Been

(Fine print: This cut file is free for PERSONAL USE ONLY.  No commercial use or redistribution is permitted.  Thanks!)


Cutting The Vinyl

Now that my design was ready, it was time to get cuttin’!  I had some great success using Oracal 651 vinyl as a stencil for The Cub’s newborn stats canvas as well as for his first birthday art canvas, so I decided to use some more for this project, and I loaded up my roll of white vinyl into my Silhouette Cameo.

(Remember to adjust your rollers if you’re using a roll instead of your cutting mat, and don’t forget to select ‘Load Media’ instead of ‘Load Cutting Mat’ on your machine…..not that I ever forget to do that…nope, never happens…..)

DIY Painted Canvas Bag & FREE Cut File! | Where The Smiles Have Been


Silhouette Cameo Cut Settings

When cutting Oracal 651, I always use the default vinyl settings, except here I bumped the speed down a bit since I had some relatively small letters to cut and I didn’t want any tearing…..a poor vinyl cut makes me sad.  My settings were:

  • Speed: 4
  • Thickness: 9
  • Blade: 2
  • Unchecked ‘Cutting Mat’ since I was cutting from a roll of vinyl

DIY Painted Canvas Bag & FREE Cut File! | Where The Smiles Have Been


Weeding The Vinyl

Once the vinyl was all cut, it was time to weed!  I usually enjoy weeding vinyl….is that weird, or is there anybody else out there that does too?  I find it rather therapeutic and get a huge sense of satisfaction at seeing my design in all its glory, just waiting for me to bring it to life.  Ahhhhh, it’s the little things, I tell ya.

To help me in removing the excess vinyl, I utilized my cutting mat to keep everything nice and flat (and still) along with my hook tool to remove the tiny little bits.

DIY Painted Canvas Bag & FREE Cut File! | Where The Smiles Have Been


Transferring The Vinyl

Once my design was weeded, I applied some transfer paper over top with the help of my scraper tool.  Then I grabbed a ruler and positioned my design on the canvas bag.  While doing this, I discovered that the handles on the bag are not exactly centered with the sides…..hey, what do you expect from a free giveaway on a college campus?  I decided to go ahead and place my design so it would be centered underneath the handle, even if that meant it would be a little off on the actual side panel….it would LOOK centered when in use that way.

So, once my design was in place, I applied a long piece of painter’s tape across the middle to act as a hinge while I applied one half of the design at a time.  This is a great, easy way to keep the design situated while applying it.

I describe the hinge method in more detail here, and you can also check out Silhouette School’s GREAT detailed explanation of it as well….I can’t believe little ole me taught Melissa at Silhouette School a trick….talk about role reversal!! :)

To my pleasant surprise, the vinyl actually stuck quite nicely to the canvas….this was going to make a nice stencil indeed.

DIY Painted Canvas Bag & FREE Cut File! | Where The Smiles Have Been


Time to Paint!

Now that my vinyl stencil was in place, it was time to paint!  Since I was using such a cheerful saying, I wanted it to be printed in an equally cheery color.  I went searching through my paint collection and found the perfect combination of colors: hot pink with some pink glitter on top!

I’m a big fan of Martha Stewart acrylic craft paints because they are so versatile: you can use them on plastic (like I did with the party dinosaurs for The Cub’s first birthday party), canvas (which I did with this), wood, glass, metal, and (the aim of this project) fabric.

I settled on using a shade of hot pink called ‘Amaranth’ followed by a top coat of pink glitter by the name of ‘Tourmaline.’  My application method would be a paint dauber/spouncer….which is basically just a sponge on a stick.  I used a 1 1/4″ size dauber here but any size would be fine.

DIY Painted Canvas Bag & FREE Cut File! | Where The Smiles Have Been


Paint Application

Before starting the painting fun, I added a frame around my vinyl box with some painter’s tape.  The vinyl box was cut to the exact size I wanted the final design to be, while the painter’s tape would just thicken up its outer edges and add some wiggle room for me during the paint application…..and I can get a little carried away while painting, so having this added protection was a big help.

The key to painting fabric with a dauber is to not use too much paint and to apply it in a straight up-and-down motion, and to do it slowly.  I squirted some paint onto a paper plate and then dabbed my dauber directly down (say that ten times fast!) into the paint.  Then I patted off the excess paint on the plate until it wasn’t sopping wet anymore… globs = good.  If you apply too much at a time to the fabric, it can lead to bleeding underneath your stencil and you will also get really thick splotches of paint in areas.  No beuno.

DIY Painted Canvas Bag & FREE Cut File! | Where The Smiles Have Been


Like I mentioned, using a dauber means applying the paint straight up and down….it’s not a brush so there’s no stroking or swiping here.  Since I am using a stencil, I don’t want any paint to seep underneath the vinyl, which is what would probably happen if I used a paint brush here.  The brush could also potentially pull up some of the vinyl during the paint application, which would break my heart into a thousand tiny wasted-vinyl-and-time-and-money-and-paint-and-bag pieces… sad.

So, I just lightly dabbed my paint-loaded dauber up and down until no more canvas was showing then moved along to another section.  Don’t rush this part either….a few light coats are better than a thick, heavy one.  Slow and steady is the name of the game here.

DIY Painted Canvas Bag & FREE Cut File! | Where The Smiles Have Been


Once my design had a nice layer of pink paint, I added another *very light* coat to fill in any small spots of canvas that were still peeking through.  I noticed that turning the bag and even lifting it off the table so I could look at it straight on really helped to find any spots that needed more coverage.  Once I was satisfied with the pinkness, I set the bag aside to dry and had some lunch with The Cub.

DIY Painted Canvas Bag & FREE Cut File! | Where The Smiles Have Been


I used the same application method to add the layer of pink glitter.  It was more of a clear liquid with pink glitter in it as opposed to being pink paint with pink glitter.  It just added some nice sparkle and dimension….and what lady doesn’t love a little sparkle from time to time?  Once my whole design was covered in sparkles, I once again let it dry completely.

DIY Painted Canvas Bag & FREE Cut File! | Where The Smiles Have Been

DIY Painted Canvas Bag & FREE Cut File! | Where The Smiles Have Been


The Finished Product: My Very Own DIY Painted Canvas Bag!

A little while later, I checked to make sure the bag was nice and dry, then held my breath as I started removing the painter’s tape and vinyl….would there be any bleeding or seeping of the paint???  Oh, that would just be the pits.

Luckily, there was nothing but crisp, clean lines….jackpot!  And I just love the subtle sparkle that the glitter provides….it’s not over-powering, but it adds a little somethin’ somethin’ and fancies the bag up just enough.  And another bonus is that it’s permanent…..yep, that’s right.  No glitter comes off when touched.

I knew I had a successful DIY project when The Hubs saw it and stated “Wow, that looks really professional.”  Yep, that made me a happy lady.

DIY Painted Canvas Bag & FREE Cut File! | Where The Smiles Have Been

DIY Painted Canvas Bag & FREE Cut File! | Where The Smiles Have Been


Functional & Fabulous!

This bag is now the perfect companion for running to the store, a family picnic or playdate, or my favorite–hitting up the pool!

DIY Painted Canvas Bag & FREE Cut File! | Where The Smiles Have Been

DIY Painted Canvas Bag & FREE Cut File! | Where The Smiles Have Been

I just love it when I’m able to breathe new life into a long-forgotten item.  Upcycling is where it’s at!  This bag is now no longer just practical….it’s practical AND cute (and out of my closet!).  Plus, its message is a valuable reminder that today….and everyday….is a good day to have a good day.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Where The Smiles Have Been



Trena McMaster

Friday 19th of July 2019

Hello - I love your painted canvas bag! I'm doing my own painted design on canvas tote using acrylic paints and was wondering how to protect my artwork on the canvas. Is there a product you can recommend to spray on to 'seal' the canvas artwork without making the bag to stiff? Thanks!


Thursday 3rd of January 2019

Loved reading through this! I've just subscribed so i can keep up with the new posts. Thank you!


Wednesday 4th of April 2018

Hi! Just wondering about the versatility of the fabric paint. I'm looking to merchandise a few totes for our home bakery and loved the idea of hand painting some canvas totes for a more aunthentic and unique product, but I'm wondering if the paint is up for the job. What have you found?


Sunday 3rd of September 2017

Thank you!


Monday 29th of August 2016

Hi...Is there a way of making the paint go further? i seem to use nearly the whole pot for a small project? thanks


Wednesday 13th of September 2017

I don't know if this would work for a bag, but I know on canvas I blend the paint with floetrol which I get from Lowes or Home Depot.